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Almost certainly, thrist means thirst.

Recall that the spelling of English words was fluid up until printed texts became widespread: Spelling followed pronunciation. At some point, probably Dr. Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary, spelling became fixed.

I am informed1 that the above is not correct: Apparently some vowel+r constructs in Old English were pronounced either way, in a phemonenon called "metathesis": We see the final uses of a form that did not survive.

There is an online search engine2 for the Faerie Queene! Thus, I was able to look for Edmund Spenser's use of "thrist".

So, Book 1, Canto 6, Stanza 38 contains:
Then gan the Pilgrim thus, I chaunst this day,
This fatall day, that shall I euer rew,
To see two knights in trauell on my way
(A sory sight) arraung'd in battell new,
Both breathing vengeaunce, both of wrathfull hew:
My fearefull flesh did tremble at their strife,
To see their blades so greedily imbrew,
That drunke with bloud, yet thristed after life:
What more? the Redcrosse knight was slaine with Paynim knife.
And then , Book 1, Canto 10, Stanza 38:
The second was as Almner of the place,
His office was, the hungry for to feed,
And thristy giue to drinke, a worke of grace:
He feard not once him selfe to be in need,
Ne car'd to hoord for those, whom he did breede:
The grace of God he layd vp still in store,
Which as a stocke he left vnto his seede;
He had enough, what need him care for more?
And had he lesse, yet some he would giue to the pore.

I found another use of the word "thrist" that isn't certainly a misspelling of "thirst", in the transliteration of a scanned3 Renaissance book printed in the 15th century by the firm of Chepman and Myllar.

This book contains a poem The Testament of Mr Andro Kennedy, by Scots poet William Dunbar, who lived from c.1460 to c.1520.
Dunbar writes in Scots dialect, and there are a few places where "thrist" appears:
He sall ascend as ane horrebble grephoun, Him meit sall in the air ane scho dragoun; Thir terrible monsteris sall togidder thrist.
Scho wes like a caldrone cruke cler vnder kellys thai threpit that scho deit of thrist et maid a gud end.

1Thank you, O Gritchka.
3a project of the British National Library Service at

Thrist (?), n.





© Webster 1913.

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